777 is definitely a lucky number for one special Berks County family!
A few weeks ago, someone from the organization Together We Rise reached out to me to see if I was willing to photograph a local family's adoption. I excitedly agreed, and they connected me with the family's mother. Fast forward to this morning...
Their long awaited adoption took place at the Lancaster County Courthouse. This was the first adoption I was honored to witness, so I didn't know what to expect, besides predicting that I'd see quite a few hard-earned and well-deserved smiles.
My trip to the courthouse was significantly lengthened by standstill traffic on Rt. 222. It cleared, and I breathed a sigh of relief... only to discover more construction around the courthouse itself. Luckily, I left with a few extra minutes to spare, and arrived right on time - and the family happened to be caught in the same traffic as I was. Crisis averted.
We went through security and made our way to the courtroom (#6) only to discover that they were running behind today as well. So, we were able to catch our breaths, and we spent a few minutes waiting outside in the hallway while we could hear other families celebrating inside Courtoom #6 as their own adoptions were being processed and finalized.
A few minutes later, it was our turn, and we made our way into the courtroom. I was a little disappointed to find out that I wasn't allowed to photograph any of the proceedings and had to wait until after everything was finished to snap a few photos of the family and the judge who granted the adoption. If I was allowed to take photos then, you would have seen loving parents smiling from ear to ear, excited children who were beaming as their new legal names were read out, and exuberant family members and case workers who were there to show their support. It was so heartwarming, and I shed more than a few tears of my own. (Mental note, pack tissues the next time I photograph one of these!!)
As the parents were finishing their testimonies (and I found out we share the same wedding anniversary!!), the courthouse fire alarm went off. Everyone had to exit the courthouse and wait for the okay to go back inside. Talk about an exciting morning! A few minutes later, we were allowed back in, and after making our way back through security and back into Courtoom #6 again, we finished up the official adoption proceedings. I snapped a few photos of the family together with the judge, and then we made our way to a local park to capture a few family photos.
I am so happy that I was able to donate my time and talent to this family. This is a day that they will all remember for the rest of their lives, and I am honored to have been a part of it. I think everyone should be able to witness this type of joy at least once in their lives. After 777 days in foster care, and an incredibly exciting morning, these amazing brothers have been granted their wish - crowned princes of their loving forever family.
Congratulations, Francis family! Thank you for allowing me to share this incredible day with all of you.